I have now made great progress on the line of Cruses who ran Cruse's Stores in Rottingdean, Sussex, for most of the twentieth century. Andrew Millard very helpfully reminded me of the Historical Directories website . Kelly's Directory of Sussex for 1911 and 1915 lists a Walter Cruse, grocer, at 14 Upper St James' Street, Brighton. Jimmy Cruse, the founder of Cruse's Stores, was said to have had a grocer's shop at this address before opening the Rottingdean store in 1918. There are no matching entries in the GRO indexes in Sussex for James or Jimmy Cruse, but there are corresponding entries for Walter Cruse, so it seems certain that Jimmy and Walter are one and the same person. Walter Cruse was born in 1870 in New Shoreham, Sussex. He was the son of Richard Cruse, a gardener, and Mary Jane White. Walter married Laura Holford in 1904 in the Brighton Registration District. The mother's maiden name is unfortunately not given in the GRO indexes before 1911, but the birth of an Eric Walter Cruse is registered in Brighton in the September quarter of 1905 who is almost certainly Walter and Laura's first child. From the death indexes I know that Eric was born on 9th July 1905 and that he died at the age of 92 in Lincoln in 1998. Ronald Thomas Cruse, Walter and Laura's second son, was born on 19th August 1909 and died in 2004 aged 95 in the Worthing Registration District. Walter and Laura did not enjoy such long lives as their sons. Laura died in 1918 at the age of 48, leaving Walter to raise his two young sons on his own and manage the grocery business. Walter died in 1931 at the age of 61 supposedly from "overwork".
Walter's father Richard Cruse was born about 1832 in Chailey, Sussex, and was the son of Richard Cruse, an agricultural labourer, and Mary Mitchell. The Chailey tree can be traced back to Thomas Cruse and Joan Wood who married on 18th November 1688 in Chailey. Richard Cruse worked for most of his life as a domestic gardener. He married Mary Jane White in 1858 in the Tavistock Registration District in Devon. Mary Jane was born in 1838 in Winchester, Hampshire. It seems likely that both Richard and Mary Jane were in service in Devon and that this is probably where they met. Richard and Mary Jane had eight children: Caroline, born in 1862, Charity Clara, born in 1864, Elizabeth, born in 1867, Walter (Jimmy), born in 1870, William Henry, born in 1872, Thomas, born in 1876, Edith Ellen, born in 1879, and Gladys, born in 1887. Caroline was born in Brighton and the other seven children were born in New Shoreham, Sussex. Two of the children died at a young age: William Henry died in 1899 at the age of 27, and Edith Ellen died in 1902 aged 22. Elizabeth married John Thomas Foster in 1900 in the Epsom Registration District. In the 1901 census John and Elizabeth Foster were living at Wateringbury Road, Nettlestead, Kent. John, 32, was a grocer's manager. He is therefore the Jack Foster, brother-in-law of Walter/Jimmy, who subsequently ran Cruse's Stores in Rottingdean. Mary Jane Cruse née White died in 1893 and Richard died in 1910. Their deaths were both registered in the Maidstone Registration District.